Saturday, December 31, 2011

Most popular posts of 2011

As the first calendar year of the Prairie Rim Images blog winds to a close, it seemed appropriate to look back at which posts made the biggest splash with our readers.  If you're a new reader, this will hopefully turn you on to a few of the gems that you may have missed.  I'm not surprised at which posts top the list, but I am, somewhat, at the degree to which they blew past their competition.  The top ten most popular posts, in reverse order, are...

10. Canon Loyalty Program
I learned recently of a program that Canon has to encourage owners of older Canon equipment (not just cameras) to stick with the brand on their next purchase.  It's called the Canon Loyalty Program, and it's not widely promoted.

9. Lytro's new light field camera
This changes everything.  Well, it might.  Or maybe not.  It could just turn out to be a lot of unsubstantiated marketing hype.  New Silicon Valley startup company Lytro announced recently that it will soon be marketing its new light field cameras to the consumer mass market.  I dropped back into my grad student mode to do some digging into this technology, and I'll give my opinions herein.

8. Patriot Day
Sunday, 11 Sept 2011, marked the tenth anniversary of the airborne attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, and the downed United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  11 Sept 2001 was a day that few American adults will ever forget.  I'd wager that everybody you meet on the street could tell you exactly where they were when they first heard of the 9-11 attacks.

7. Party lighting with multiple speedlites
Photographing family parties like birthdays or Christmas can produce some wonderful memories.  With just a little bit of pre-planning, the lighting at those events can produce not only fond memories, but also some attractive images at the same time without blinding the other participants with your on-camera flash.

6. Increasing head rotation on a Canon 430EX flash
I love my flashes, thanks in large part to David Hobby. I don't love spending lots of money on equipment, which is why I opted to buy the cheaper Canon Speedlite 430EX flash instead of the bigger, badder 580EX. One of the things I sacrificed with that decision was the ability to rotate the flash head more than 90 degrees to the right. Most flashes will rotate a full 180 degrees to the left, but for some inexplicable reason, both Canon and Nikon limit the right rotation to 90 degrees on most of their flashes.  Read on to learn how I remedied the situation and increased the 430EX head rotation from 270 to 340 degrees.

5. Old glass: Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B) macro
If you've been reading a while, you know that I have a weak spot for old things.  This includes old, manual-focus lenses -- some of which are older than I am.  This post marked another installment of my "old glass" series.  This time, we featured the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B) macro lens -- a well-built, well-respected beauty of a lens that works equally well for close-ups and portraits.

4. Old glass: Yashica ML 75-150mm f/4
Many of you know that I like old things, and that includes camera lenses.  I love using inexpensive, old, manual-focus glass on my new DSLR bodies.  This was the second in an ongoing series of posts in which I highlight one of these old beauties.  This time, the spotlight was on my Yashica ML 75-150mm f/4 zoom lens.  It's an uncommon and inexpensive lens, even my my standards, but it still gets lots of use.

3. Manual focus lenses: an introduction
I like old things.  I like to tinker.  I like to do things myself, preferably better and cheaper than the average Joe.  All these traits work together to give me a fondness for using old, manual-focus lenses on my new digital camera bodies.  Some of this old glass is very high quality, and can be had for pennies on the dollar.  With the proper adapter, many old lenses can be used on new cameras -- you just need to know what will work with your body.

2. Old glass: Asahi/Pentax SMC & Super-Takumar 50/1.4
Many of you know that I like old things, and that includes camera lenses.  I love using inexpensive, old, manual-focus glass on my new DSLR body.  I promised earlier to take some time now and then to talk about some of my older equipment, and this is the first installment.  This time, I highlighted two of them:  my trusty Asahi (Pentax) Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens (built in 1967) and it's younger brother, the SMC Takumar 50/1.4 (built in 1974).  Although I have quite a selection of "fast fifty" lenses on my shelf, the Super-Tak is the one I grab most frequently for low light and portrait shooting.

And finally, [drum roll, please]...

1. Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 aperture blade cleaning
I once ran across a garage sale selling a Nikon FE body (made 1978-84) with a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 AIS macro lens attached. This is a highly regarded lens which will reach 1:2 natively and 1:1 with a 27.5mm extension tube. Even wide open, it's "so sharp you can cut yourself just by looking at it." Everybody loves it, except that this design has a chronic problem: oil leaks onto the aperture blades, causing them to stick. The lens I bought had already succumbed to this. I was too ignorant at the time to realize this and try to talk the seller down, but I still only paid $75 for a body/lens that, in working condition, could fetch $175 on eBay.  It doesn't take much prodding to convince me to take something apart and fix it.

So there you have it.  If you missed any of these the first time around, I hope you'll enjoy reading through them now.

The fact that my manual focus lens and fix-it articles lead the pack is no great surprise.  Because I hang out on forums where such things are discussed, I'm able to "advertise" those posts using legitmate, on-topic replies to people's questions.  The top ranked Micro-Nikkor repair article has taken on a life of its own, frequently being suggested by other people when the subject of this lens comes up on forums all over the world.  I suppose it doesn't hurt that this one was one of the first articles I wrote on this blog, so it's had time to develop some notoriety.

Some other stats of note through our first seven months:
  • Operating system:  74% of you run Windows.  13% run MacOS.  4% run Linux.  2% run Android, and other mobile devices trail off from there.
  • Browser:  35% of you run Firefox.  24% run IE.  19% run Chrome.  11% run Safari.  4% run Opera.  Other (mostly mobile) browsers follow.
  • Location:  45% of you are from the USA.  The next five are Singapore (4%), Germany (4%), the UK (3%), Canada (3%), and France (2%).  Rounding out the top ten, with just over 1% each, are Indonesia, Philippines, China, and Pakistan.  That still leaves 33% of you from the rest of the world.  I have to admit that I'm pretty tickled that a web site produced from a mid-sized city in the exact center of the US has such a diverse readership.

What other topics would you like to seem me cover in 2012?  Which current themes should I leave behind?  I've got more of the same just waiting to be presented, but I want to keep the Prairie Rim Images blog relevant to our readers, and that means letting you all help guide our direction.  Speak up in the comments below!

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